The Why, When And How Of Trimming Your Candle Wick


Do you remember the last time you trimmed your candle wick?

Maybe you have no idea what we are talking about or thought such a thing is not needed. But the truth is, trimming your candle wicks goes a long way in getting the most out of your precious candles. 

See, a wick is one of the most critical elements of a candle. Almost everything your candle does can be somewhat affected by its wick! The candle’s life, how it burns, production of soot, size of the flame – everything under the sun.

You could say that candle wick maintenance definitely goes a long way.

…but why? What’s the worst thing that could happen if you don’t trim your wicks?

Why Should I Trim My Candle Wick?

Ah, the million-dollar question. What’s the big deal?

A wick that is not trimmed or is the incorrect length will eventually begin to mushroom. It’s the classic tell-tale sign.

A “mushroom” wick doesn’t exactly look like a mushroom, by the way. Just to clear things up. This kind of wick usually has a small-cap that bends at an angle or curls at the tip, which explains its name.

Mushroom wicking happens when your candle can’t keep up with its wick.

In essence, the wick uses up more wax than it can actually burn, creating a build-up of excess carbon on the wick, which looks… ugly. This can also cause you a larger flame since there’s extra carbon on your wick.

For the most part, a mushroom wick is caused by a wick that is too long.

A longer wick draws in more wax to melt, giving your candle more fuel to pump up a bigger flame. An enormously large flame, in turn, produces more soot and smoke due to incomplete combustion. This could leave your candle with an unwanted tunnel.

Ignoring a mushroom wick can cause an inconsistent burn, quicker burn, and candle tunneling, making it difficult to light your candle.

No worries. Mushroom wicking is no biggie as long as you consistently trim your candle.

For starters, wick trimming may extend your candle’s life by almost 25 percent.

A trimmed wick also creates a cleaner flame. Untrimmed wicks usually have a remarkable mushroom cap-like shape, which produces an unpleasant flame with a weird shape. Trimmed wicks should give you an even, bright flame that looks clean. No tunneling, no hardened wax on the sides— just a long-lasting candle that burns all the way through.

Everyone wants a brighter flame for their candle. Trimming wicks should give your candles more glow, as untrimmed wicks tend to produce dull flames with less light. Also, as we said earlier, trimmed wicks give off cleaner flames.

Lastly, trimming the wick also saves your candle jar. Untrimmed wicks produce more soot and smoke. So, a trimmed wick producing a steady flame will have less soot and be safer. In addition, this reduces the amount of residue left on your jar.

Now that you know why wick trimming is so important, let’s get to the when and how of it.

When Should I Trim My Candlewick?

First things first, when should you trim your candle wick?

There are two things you can do.

  1. You can trim the wick every 3 – 4 hours. This can be a bit tricky since it requires you to track the time.
  2. Alternatively, you can trim the wick before each use. It’s much easier than point 1 and much easier to keep as a habit. On top of this, it’s still an effective method.

Trimming your wick before relighting a candle guarantees a safe, pleasant burn with a bright flame.

How Do I Trim The Wick?

So, now that you know when and how frequently wick trimming should be done, let’s detail how to trim your candle wick.

It’s a super easy and hassle-free process that won’t take much of your time (and money!)

A nice pair of scissors should be enough to trim any wick, whether your candle is in a special container or not.

Over time, as the candle melts down, its wick will get naturally harder to reach.

In this case, using nail clippers should do the job of trimming your wicks. You can also get an official wick trimmer designed for an inaccessible wick if you’re feeling a little fancy.

How Short Should My Candle Wick Be?

Trimming isn’t such a complicated process!

Now that you know how to trim candle wicks, it’s time to learn the optimum length of the wick for a nice and safe burn.

It’s best to trim your wick to ⅛ – ¼ of an inch before each burn.

It sounds like a very short length if you think about it. But that’s precisely what we want – for the wick to burn at the same pace as the candle’s wax to get a smooth and even burn. So a lower flame inside your jar is safer than a flame that is too big or high.

So… What’s Next After Trimming The Wick?

Voila! That’s about it for wick trimming. You should totally start trimming your wick… now.

But, candle care doesn’t stop with trimming. There are many ways you could start maintaining your candle to make it last longer.

Here’s a shortlist of tips that you can do after trimming your wick for a better candle care routine.

Keep Your Candle Clean

Let’s face it, dust and dirt particles getting on your candle can be out of your control. (Who wants a dirty candle anyway?)

To minimize debris falling on the wax, try storing your candle in a cabinet or covering it with a lid if you don’t use it often. But, if dust still finds its way on the wax, you can gently wipe off the top part of your candle with cotton or lint-free cloth before lighting it again.

Watch The Clock

If you burn your candle for more than four hours, then maybe it’s time to change that.

Burning your candle for more than four hours can risk overheating. Too much carbon accumulates when it does, causing a “mushroomed” wick. The flame gets too large and produces too much smoke, which causes the familiar black or ‘burnt’ jar look.

If you’re using a scented candle, expect less scent once you burn it longer than needed.

Keep your candle burn times under 4 hours in a single sitting if you can.

First Burn Matters

When using a new candle, make sure to burn it for approximately two hours for the first burn (it could be more or less depending on the candle and size).

For a more mathematically sound rule, burn a candle for 1 hour for every 1 inch in diameter.

Ensure that the entire first layer of wax becomes completely liquified before it solidifies. Failing to follow this tip might leave an ugly amount of wax unmelted, and only the area around the candle wick melts— eventually creating the (awful) candle tunnel.

Go Trim Your Wick Now

Reading articles like this is a smart move for starting candle care, and we must say, you’re on the right track.

Most enthusiasts don’t realize the importance of wick trimming, which is a bummer since this small tip can save anyone a considerable amount of time for a longer burn. A trimmed wick can also give you a cleaner and safer flame that’s perfect for a worry-free me-time.

With the right guide and handy tips, it’s safe to say that candle care won’t have to be so challenging and pricey at all!

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